APART from all the obvious daily interruptions, it’s the little things that show up just how different 2020 has been to other years.
Usually, this time of year I would be fighting through a thicket of seasonal cookery books all vying for attention as we prepare to cosy up beside the fire, or utilise the long evenings with dreams of slow cooking, braising and roasting our way to comfort. So, autumn/winter 2020 isn’t the usual blizzard of cookery books, but Cork authors are leading the way with some enjoyable new titles.
More than ever, your local bookshop needs your support. While stores are closed for browsing, many have developed online stores or are offering Click & Collect or over-the-phone ordering services. Making that extra bit of effort this year means more to them than ever.
MILK, John and Sally McKenna (Estragon Press, €17.99)
The McKenna’s are Ireland’s most respected and lauded food writers. Their latest book, simply titled, MILK, is an in depth look at Ireland’s most culturally important food stuff, including commentary from dairy scientist Dr Alan Kelly, and food historian Regina Sexton both from UCC, a number of industry bodies and nutritionists. It explores the Irish dairy industry paradox as the leading supplier of milk and dairy products globally while maintaining and protecting the supply chain of Ireland’s Grand Crú with its network of small, independent, family farms. The book comes complete with a comprehensive, and delicious sounding, selection of delicious recipes from the great and good of Ireland’s restaurant scene.
The Joy Of Food: A Celebration of Good Things To Eat, Rory O’Connell (Gill, €24.99)
O’Connell’s third book is a celebration of great ingredients and the joy that comes from cooking food and sharing food with others: a mixture of recipes, stories and shared memories. However, what I adore about this book are the beautiful illustrations drawn by Rory. That’s when you realise all the illustrations that grace the menus, event posters and brochures at Ballymaloe all come from his skill as an artist.
Trisha’s Transformation, Trisha Lewis (Gill, €19.99)
This book follows the incredible weight loss journey of one of Cork’s most colourful chefs, Trisha Lewis of Jacob on the Mall.
Her journey to achieving an eight-stone weight loss was spurred by her lifelong struggle with weight and the emotional rollercoaster that came with it. The book is a collection of delicious recipes as well as tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet.
Midweek Meals, Neven Maguire (Gill, €22.99)
There’s a lot to be said about the timeliness of Neven’s latest book. Stuck in the kitchen mid- lockdown, sometimes just looking at the cooker can make you want to scream! But Neven’s book of Midweek Meals puts the spark back into your meal planning, or lack of, by giving you a nudge in the right direction whether you have the luxury of time (Low and Slow), think you have absolutely nothing in for dinner (Cupboard’s Bare), are in a rush to get something on the table (One-Pan Suppers), or just grabbing something quick on the way home (Supermarket Sweep).
And with Neven’s approachable style and family-friendly focus on flavour, simplicity and time it will become your right-hand man in the kitchen as quick as the kids can say: What’s for dinner?
Vegan Cooking For Everyone, David and Stephen Flynn (Penguin Ireland, €20)
David and Stephen’s latest vegan cookery book positions itself as the go-to vegan bible for every kind of kitchen! Whether thinking of going vegan, already vegan but looking for new inspiration, or just someone who wants to cook more plant-based foods, this new book is a timely release as we head into the festive period so you can be on the front foot for cooking for vegan friends and family.
Cook, Eat, Repeat, Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus, £26)
Nigella’s latest offering rides effortlessly on the wave of the growing popularity for food memoir with recipes. Personal essays on everything from anchovy’s (“the bacon of the sea”), to a rapturous shout out for brown food – the kind of food that brings instant comfort to the eater. Her voluptuous prose is joined at the hip to recipes you simply just want to cook. And with the inevitable pairing of a new TV show to go with the book, we are invited to live all these expressions of food love vicariously from the comfort of our sofa, too.
Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds and Shape Our Futures, Merlin Sheldrake, (Bodley Head, €20)
If you have read Peter Wohlleben’s phenomenal book, The Hidden Life of Trees, then you may be somewhat prepared for the jaw-dropping revelations of a life form that we are only really starting to understand: fungi.
Entangled Life is the kind of book that will leave you looking at the world around you in a completely different way as it explores an entire biology that exists out of view.
Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi, but their underground mycorrhizal networks can stretch for miles in multiple and interconnecting directions in what is blithely referred to as the Wood Wide Web. This book is essential in understanding the intricate biology that makes up our wild and wooded places.
A Taste of the Mizen, The Townhouse (self-publish, €10 + P&P)
This caught my eye in my newsfeed, and really wanted to let you know about it too. Owner Aislinn O’Driscoll of The Townhouse Gastropub in Schull, West Cork, came across an old copy of a cookbook she compiled 20 years ago with schoolfriends Eoin Kelleher, Lorraine McCarthy, Emer Griffin, Derek Cotter, Daniel Hurley and Brian Goggin for their Transition Year project titled “A Taste of the Mizen.”
Aislinn is producing a limited-edition reprint of the booklet with all the proceeds going to West Cork Underwater Search and Rescue. A total of 45 recipes are included: all 30 original recipes and 15 new from the Gastropubs repertoire. The book can be purchased direct from The Townhouse, call (028) 28692 to order a copy.